FYBROMYALGIA, DEPRESSION, AND ANXIETY
Those who suffer with fybromyalgia know the frustration of coping with the symptoms. Pain, tender points, muscle stiffness, sleep problems are all par for the course with FMS (Fybromyalgia Syndrome) but the symptoms of depression and anxiety are also issues that need attention. Many times people with FMS are shrugged off as just feeling depressed with no real “condition”. Even doctors who are well-intentioned may dismiss the syndrome as a psychological condition rather than an actual physical disorder.
According to statistics, over of lifetime, as many as 62 percent of people with fybromyalgia may experience some type of depressive disorder and 56 percent may experience an anxiety disorder. Anxiety usual expresses itself as rapid shallow breathing (hyperventilation) while depression demonstrates itself as a decrease in normal interests.
PHYSICAL FACTORS FOR DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY
Biochemically, depression is different in FMS patients than with regular depressive people. Depression in FMS is associated with an underactive adrenal function (a low cortisol level) whereas regular depression is associated with high cortisol levels.
Doctors who regularly treat patients with FMS report that there are certain physical factors that increase the patient’s chances of developing depression or anxiety symptoms.
- Hypothyroidism – According to experts, 95 percent of people with FMS have low thyroid (hypothyroidism) and 100 percent have low adrenal function – both conditions that increase the occurrence of depression and anxiety in patients. Fortunately, hypothyroidism is easy to detect and once treated, the symptoms of anxiety and depression should ease up.
- Low cortisol levels – Cortisol is a hormone that is released as a result of stress. It is produced by the adrenal glands but when the adrenals produce an insufficient amount of cortisol, the condition known as “adrenal fatigue” can occur with symptoms which include muscle aches and pains, extreme fatigue, anxiety, and elevated levels of cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure. Adrenal fatigue is a result of the body being under stress for an extended period of time.
For FMS patients, the best way to solve this problem is to control stress. Patients are encouraged to participate in activities like yoga, meditation, tai chi, breathing techniques, massage, herbal extracts, and medicines which all may be used in combinations to effectively control stress. It may take a year or so to normalize the body but in the end, depression and anxiety should be lessened.
- Poor mitochondrial functioning – Mitochondria, the energy-producing parts of the cell, assist in vital body processes like metabolism. When mitochondria are not functioning properly, the result can be the depression and anxiety experienced by FMS patients. Supplements such as coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), the amino acid-like compound L-carnitine, NADH (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, which is related to niacin, a B vitamin), D-ribose, and the antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid all help to replenish mitochondria. Patients whose diets add these supplements report a reduction in symptoms of anxiety and depression in fybromyalgia.
- Vitamin D deficiency – Patients with fybromyalgia who experience anxiety and depression have low vitamin D levels. This is an easy fix. Include supplements and/or foods fortified with vitamin D.
- Poor sleep – Un-restorative sleep can cause or aggravate existing depression and anxiety in people with fybromyalgia. The reason that their sleep is not restorative is that they cannot attain that stage of sleep called REM sleep. In addition, if they are taking an antidepressant for other symptoms, that medication can also prevent REM sleep. In order to attain better sleep, these patients must try some relaxing techniques like listening to soft music or simulated ocean waves when bedtime rolls around. Exercise seems to help too. Try to have a workout earlier in the day. The added activity usually will bring better sleep to the body. A warm bath or shower may also relax the muscles and wash away any stress from the day. All these techniques may help with better sleep as well as other symptoms from fybromyalgia.
Those who suffer from fybromyalgia really do have physical symptoms that may be responsible for their depression and anxiety. Today, doctors are taking a closer look into this syndrome and finding that the symptoms are real, the syndrome is a physical and biochemical condition, and these people need medical help and understanding from their primary care and specialist physicians. Patients with fybromyalgia should undergo testing to determine if an underlying deficiency or a related health condition could be complicating their situation and bringing depression and anxiety to the surface. The results from testing will give their doctors vital insight into what is behind their dilemma and what procedures and/or medications are needed to curtail or prevent depression or anxiety from becoming another symptom in their list of symptoms for fybromyalgia.